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Author's profile photo Jocelyn Dart

SAP Activate – UX Adoption – Why Select UX before Fit-to-standard

This blog post is currently applicable to the roadmap SAP Activate for RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition. Similar features may be extended to other roadmaps in future. All of the concepts and accelerators for UX Adoption mentioned in this blog post are considered applicable to SAP S/4HANA on-premise (whether on your own infrastructure or your preferred hyperscaler) and SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition.

TL;DR – Getting to the new business value of UX is a funnel.  If you don’t consider the full breadth of the UX available to you early you are likely to miss out on your most useful opportunities.  You want to look at what’s available and of interest and build a short list to assess in fit-to-standard.


The UX Adoption funnel – how you refine all the available new business value to what you actually deploy to your business users in your current wave of UX adoption

So you want to bring the new business value of SAP S/4HANA to your business users. You know that means you need to deploy the SAP Fiori for S/4HANA User Experience (UX).

  1. You like the idea of the UX Value Goals as a way to select UX that fits with your desired business outcome, as explained in SAP Activate – Introducing UX Value Goals for your UX adoption roadmap.
  2. You have understood how App Selection by UX Value Goals works as explained in SAP Activate – Selecting apps using the UX Value Goals.
  3. You have looked at the SAP Activate – Understanding the UX Adoption workshops and are comfortable with the conversations you need to have.

You have read in the 10 key principles given in SAP Activate – UX Adoption as an iterative process that:

In the Prepare phase, you select your target UX before fit-to-standard. You select your desired UX based on how you want to change business user behaviors to align to your desired business outcomes.

So now you are wondering…

Why does the SAP Activate UX Adoption approach select UX *before* fit-to-standard?

In this blog post you will find an explanation – and some diagrams – explaining why UX Adoption works like a funnel that needs to start before fit-to-standard.

You will also find some answers to the usual FAQs:

  • How does selecting UX before fit-to-standard make fit-to-standard more effective?
  • Why not just select UX based on your business processes like SAP GUI?
  • What about new implementations with no history of SAP, shouldn’t you just choose UX using the best practice business processes?
  • So how do you include your selected UX in your fit-to-standard workshops?
  • What else do you need to consider about UX after fit-to-standard?

Why UX Adoption is a funnel

Like most selection processes, UX Adoption is a funnel.  You need to start with a broad idea of where you want to focus, then narrow down to what’s available in your release. In most projects going through the usual fit-to-standard will further narrow your choices based on your process use cases.  After fit-to-standard, the usual negotiations around project and business capacity are likely to narrow your selection further.

IMPORTANT: Does this mean fit-to-standard is less relevant or being bypassed in some way? Absolutely not! The aim is to make fit-to-standard *more* effective by starting from a outcomes-based short list of UX/UI requirements from the business, instead of from a blank page. That means your functional consultant starts with a much better idea of the benefits you want to bring to your business process and the business users who execute it.


UX Adoption funnel with UX Value Goals showing the primary considerations as you refine your UX from all available opportunities to what your users will actually use


A typical funnel works like this:

Focus on WHO to change

You start by identifying your relevant custom business role(s) and mapping those to the closest fit SAP Business Roles you can use to identify available content.

Focus on WHAT to change

You gather what’s available in your release by business outcomes using the UX Value Goal(s), i.e. what new UX in your SAP S/4HANA release will help you achieve your business outcomes, as explained in SAP Activate – Introducing UX Value Goals for your UX adoption roadmap

You might also consider custom use cases, such as side-by-side extensions in SAP BTP, as explained in SAP Activate – Selecting apps using the UX Value Goals.

Focus on HOW to change 

Explore your selected new UX in detail to refine your new UX selection further by:

  • Fit-to-standard process use cases – what suits your detailed business needs for your to-be business processes
  • Project capacity – you assess the criticality of UX to your business outcomes vs. what you have time/effort to test, and where needed, to extend
  • Business capacity – plan the rollout considering what you believe your users can pragmatically adopt at go live and what may be deployed now for later use

Finally you plan to deploy your new UX.  For example, you prepare launchpad layouts to help your users get started, and go through the usual testing, training, and go-live activities.


How to Adopt User Experience – the 3 major decision steps – WHO, WHAT, and HOW


Deploy and embed your new UX with your users

What’s then adopted by your business users is your real new UX, and the starting point for any future waves of UX Adoption. For more on making UX adoption an iterative process, refer to blog post SAP Activate – UX Adoption as an iterative process

How does selecting UX before fit-to-standard make fit-to-standard more effective?

Across the many customer projects in the SAP S/4HANA Customer Care program, pragmatically, most functional consultants just don’t have the bandwidth (time, effort, and/or skills) to assess everything that might be useful to you.

Functional consultants can even become overwhelmed at having to choose UX on top of the process itself. Remember that User Experience is not their core skill area.

Plus consultants are often outsiders who don’t have a detailed understanding of your day to day realities and challenges. That means they end up selecting UX in a rush, bringing some uninspired (“what I did on my last project”) choices, or worse a SAP Fiori launchpad where (nearly) every tile launches to a SAP GUI transaction.

Even where they do make good choices, many consultants struggle to articulate the business value in a way that makes sense to business users, business sponsors and stakeholders, and IT teams.

They may even miss the best new value. That means you as a business user won’t even know it’s there because no one has ever shown it to you.

The other significant problem seen across projects is that by the time you get to fit-to-standard, if you haven’t already shifted mindsets, you are likely to focus more heavily on process actions, and miss benefits you can get from improving process insights and triggers.  The drop-out of good new UX value can be substantial.


Missed opportunities – much of the new innovation is not considered when UX selection is done late as part of fit-to-standard, resulting in a mostly classic UX

For example, one of my New Zealand customers using SAP S/4HANA 1909 was focused on old ideas around create/change/display of Sales Orders and sales-related documents.  They initially missed how moving from SAP GUI transaction VA03 to using the SAP Fiori Search results to launch the SAP Fiori Sales Order object page would help them. The missed how with the SAP Fiori apps they could even more clearly and quickly access sales data (by highlighting status fields) and the related sales documents (via the Process Flow navigation icons).

When we held a usability session with the users, discussed their concerns and showed them Manage Sales Orders, the Sales Order object page, and Enterprise Search, the Call Center team realized the available SAP Fiori apps and features provided simpler and faster ways to answer customer queries.   By starting in SAP Fiori they could resolve 95% of their customer queries faster, such as current order status, progress on related deliveries, and verifying what was charged on related invoices.

For the remaining 5% of use cases where they needed some special custom fields they couldn’t view in the app, a simple app-to-app navigation link from the SAP Fiori app across to VA03 was enough to give them “just one click away” access to the additional details.

So if you can give your functional consultant(s) a short list of interesting UX as a starting point that helps them focus and be more effective.

Why not select UX based on your business processes like SAP GUI?

If you are a customer who has never used SAP before, then you may be able to follow the best practices in the SAP Best Practice Explorer.

However, if you are doing a system conversion, or you have a new installation where you are migrating data and processes from one or more SAP Business Suite or Suite on HANA systems, following best practice ideals may not be possible. Your individual process use cases are well known, or are core to how you differentiate your business, so shifting users back to an industry standard just doesn’t make business sense.

In the past with SAP GUI:

  • Usually, the choice of classic UI was based primarily on your business process use case. Often that was because SAP GUI user interfaces were primarily aimed at performing actions. So usually, your business process dictated which UI (i.e which SAP GUI transaction) you should use.
  • Additionally, transactions that performed actions were largely separated from analytics. Those analytical reports were either a separate program or often in a different system altogether.

Now with SAP Fiori:

  • While SAP Process Navigator (which has superseded SAP Best Practices Explorer) may describe an idealized business process, you have many more UX choices available to you.
  • Many SAP Fiori apps cover the trigger or insight that helps users decide which action to take.
  • Many apps are translytical – i.e. provide a mash up of real-time analytics and transactional capabilities in the same app.
  • Most SAP Fiori apps are remarkably flexible to cover a wide variety of use cases, thanks to personalization and in-app extensibility.
  • Many SAP Fiori apps flexibly provide options for multiple ways to act, such as app-to-app navigation links to related apps and classic UIs.
  • SAP Fiori UX often provides complementary benefits to processes regardless of process use cases. For example: the use of Search to quickly find documents by reference; Notifications of approaching thresholds, imminent business situations, and/or workflow approvals.
  • And finally, intelligent use cases provided via SAP Fiori or via SAP BTP provide benefits that may significantly change the direction of process discussions

In summary, you need to be aware of what UX options are available with your SAP S/4HANA release before you go into your to-be process discussion in your fit-to-standard workshops.

Refer to Process Navigator by SAP released today!

What about new implementations with no history of SAP, shouldn’t you just choose UX by the best practice business process?

Yes of course reviewing best practice is part of your scoping process. However, it’s worth remembering that there is much more to SAP Fiori than just the best practice processes.

You still need to have the conversations re expectations and desired outcomes.

You still need to build awareness of common options like search, notifications, personalization, how apps can be adapted/extended, how custom roles are built.

Plus it’s even more important to do a good launchpad layout to help users settle in with the new system.

So how do you include your selected UX in your fit-to-standard workshops?

Fit-to-standard is the usual approach to having a deep dive on your business process needs.

So as usual, this is the time to explore the UX you have selected and use fit-to-standard to verify your selected UX aligns to your to-be processes and your specific to-be process use cases.

You can find advice on how to effectively explore new UX in the accelerator Quick Guide to Evaluating SAP Fiori apps

This includes reviewing the available in-app (key user) extension options for your apps to:

  • Check for hidden fields
  • Fine tune filters
  • Rearrange fields to better focus attention on important details
  • Hide unwanted features (such as fields, buttons, and tabs)

Depending on your SAP S/4HANA release, it’s usual to find some use cases are covered by SAP Fiori and other still require classic UI.  Avoid making this an either/or choice.  Consider using app-to-app navigation links to provide complementary access.  There are many places where you can dynamically adjust app-to-app navigation links through configuration and authorizations such as:

  • Links in search results
  • “Related Apps” buttons
  • Smart link dialogs
  • “Jump to” options in analytical reports

Where you need multiple UIs or similar use cases, you can use launchpad content configuration of tile texts and link texts to clarify which UI to use when.

Remember you can also use SAP Screen Personas to create a simplify any classic UIs you need to navigate to – making them more Fiori-like to ease the transition from app to UI.  You can often even quickly create a Screen Personas Flavour that immediately shows just the extra information you need (fields, tabs, etc) – delivering on the “just one click away” promise even more effectively.

What else do you need to consider about UX after fit-to-standard?

You may need to configure, adapt, or extend apps, features, and intelligent use cases while keeping the core clean.

Most SAP Fiori apps do not require any additional configuration. If the process is configured, and data exists, the apps will work.  There are always a few exceptions, such as SAP Fiori app F0862 My Inbox and central configuration for Finance apps (semantic tags and cost element hierarchies), where you need to check the app documentation.

With extensions your aim is to keep the core clean to minimize roadblocks and maximize opportunities to taking advantage of the latest business and technology innovations. Refer to Custom Extensions in SAP S/4HANA Implementations – A Practical Guide for Senior IT Leadership. Pay special attention to the Decision Matrix to guide your extension choices.

Keeping the core clean often means taking advantage of in-app extensions first. Most SAP Fiori apps provide a range of in-app extensions.  These extensions are often simply a regular part of the app’s floorplan and are not explicitly documented.  You can find a summary of the in-app extensions in Enhancement using in-app extension feature map.

Hint: Some apps provide further explicit extensions in the App’s Extensibility Documentation (look for the Extensibility Documentation links in the SAP Fiori apps reference library and the Extensibility Documentation sections for each app in the SAP Help Portal documentation) such as:

  • Custom fields and logic – the documentation will clarify which business context to use for this apps
  • Developer extension hooks – what is available and a brief suggestion of how this can be used for local and side-by-side extensions

Find out more about SAP Activate in the SAP Activate Community

Visit your community topic page for SAP Activate

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